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Nature Helps Me Cope

In March of 2011, I discovered I had an aggressive breast cancer.

Suggestions came from a few friends to go to Little Rock or St. Louis. I thought about it for a few minutes, looked around at what I’d be leaving, and chose to stay put.

I took direction from Dr. Stahl, my surgeon. He knew the route I needed to take. He became my GPS.

He was the one who identified the cancer. Then I was off to chemo, surgery, more chemo, radiation and chemo together. Zippity Doo Dah! Not. I had no energy to spare. It took all I had to get dressed and follow the road in front of me.

People and churches put me on prayer lists. They prayed. I let them carry me in their minds and hearts. I prayed too, but my feelings and prayers felt numb and empty. I trusted their prayers were more alive than mine.

Usually, I’m “the strong one” in my family-of-origin. Not true at this time.

I lived in the shock stage during April and May while taking chemo. In June—after surgery—I felt stronger, then boom! the chemo moved into full swing.

I was nauseous. Everything was muddy and mucky in my mind. I was in the swamp. I was up to my nose in alligators. I’d be in bed by eight in the evening.

By August and September, I was knee-deep in red chemo. It was a time of wigs, caps, scarves, hats. I wondered if my hair would ever sprout again. Feet and hands, peeling.

Oddly, I was half-fascinated, half-horrified. Strange times.

I was a lost sparrow.

It took a team of specialists at the hospital. It took my sister-in-law and husband working as a team at home.

So how did I hang on?

I clung to the fact that others were praying for me. Surprisingly, that fact allowed me the freedom to look beyond myself to the shrubs silvered in dewdrops. I leaned into nature as never before.

God made the beauty, and I looked upon it. Sky, grass, and everything in-between. I watched birds and looked intensely at the trees. I knew when a season’s colors began to change. That was my joy.

You are blessed if you can look on beauty by looking outside your window. Still blessed if you must walk to a park to find leaves.

Healing is in nature. Healing and calmness.

Another way to be nurtured is to find the right coffee-table book. I have found such a picture book, filled with nature and poetic sayings.

I can recommend Ah, Autumn. The author is Kathy Joy, a woman I met on Facebook. Her posts are nostalgic, thoughtful, easy on the eyes. Each page has two or three photos, and her poetic phrases are full of autumn love.

Such a book would have spoken to me in 2011. I did not go outdoors much.

My mind was foggy much of the time. I was stumbling through my world. No interest in reading books or watching videos. But in this book, there’s no push to think.

That may be what I like about this book! I had no interest in anything requiring mental work. But, a picture book! That would have been perfect! Calm, comforting, perfect.

One photo page in Ah, Autumn is of a torn spider web, complemented by the phrase, “The resilience of a spider’s web.” Hope. Another page, cheerful leaves laying over a road, complemented by “Bandit winds, snatching leftover leaves.” A time to fall, a time to fly.

I asked Kathy for permission to “show and tell” with my readers, to use one of the pages from her book for this blog.

She is showing us another way to slow down, to calm ourselves in this busy, complicated world. It’s like she’s telling us to take time to pick up a quiet picture book, to look at a leaf, to become aware of the light of a moon.

I say it’s still worth my time.


Pat Durmon

P.S.- Comments and Shares are welcome.

A page from the book Ah, Autumn, by Kathy Joy. Photo credit goes to Johannes Plenio and Ales Krivec.

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